Monday Presser Transcripts - Week 12

Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr previews the epic battle between #1 ranked Ohio State and #2 ranked Michigan. He also updates the status of Antonio Bass.

To view comments from the players, click the following links: Offense, Defense.


Opening Statement:

"I have a couple of announcements. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Chris Graham and his family. Last Saturday, prior to the game, his grandmother passed away. She was in the car on the way from Indianapolis down to Bloomington to see the game, and she passed away. His father grabbed me at halftime, and he didn't want Chris to know until after the game. But certainly all of our thoughts and prayers go out to the Graham family.

"Antonio Bass had a second surgery eight or ten days ago, and it was a lengthy procedure. It will be a lengthy rehabilitation. I don't know what his status will be for next season, but it will be a while.

"I like the way we played Saturday. I like the way we competed, and I like the fact that we came out of the game without any injuries. Now it's about putting a plan together and getting prepared and going down and executing and playing like we're capable of playing."

On what this week is like for him:

"It's fun. It's fun because I love this game, the game of football. And when you have an opportunity to play in this particular game as many years as I have, you appreciate the competition. You appreciate the preparation that goes into it: The study, the long hours. You appreciate the practices where you know that guys are paying attention, they're focused. And they're doing everything they can to get ready to play their best game. So it's a great week. It always has been. I think it always will be for those who coach and play in this game."

On if this Michigan - Ohio State game is more special than any other:

"I've always said the most important and the most special thing in this rivalry is the next one. So yeah, it's special."

On LaMarr Woodley:

"I think maybe he's surpassed what I expected. I expected him to be a great football player, but he's been an incredible leader. He is a guy that plays with great passion. He is an unselfish guy. He's excited for his teammates and he loves to win. I think in the area of leadership, I knew he would be a great player and I thought he certainly had the qualities of a leader, but he's been absolutely sensational."

On if he remembers telling Woodley during his recruitment that U-M and OSU would eventually match up as the top two teams in the country:

"No (laughing). We talked about playing in that game, playing against Notre Dame every year, playing against Michigan State. I think that's something we talk a lot about in terms of recruiting. And certainly LaMarr was probably as highly recruited as any player in the country that year. We were trying to convince him to come here because of all the reasons -- his family, his friends, he had an opportunity to continue to build his reputation and play in front of people who had watched him play in high school."

On settling down for the game:

"I think it comes down to executing the game plan. I think every guy in this game is going to play as hard as they can. But it comes down to playing together and executing assignments and understanding that it's not a game of perfect. There are going to be some mistakes out there, and you just have to keep playing. You have to keep playing from the time the ball is snapped to the time the whistle blows and the clock reads zero."

On how Troy Smith compares to Vince Young:

"I really don't get into comparing them. I think they're both great quarterbacks."

On when his team started preparing for Ohio State:

"I think there was a point in our schedule where we felt we had an opportunity to get ahead and work on some things and we did that. The truth is you're working against all your opponents in January. You're competing against them. When you get into spring practice you're working against them. In the summer, as coaches, you're studying them. I think it's an ongoing process. That's probably been true since time began."

On his team using the criticism levied against him last year as motivation:

"We have great people in this program. I think one of the things that Michigan players have always done is they love their teammates and they're loyal guys. I think they care deeply about the people in the program. I think that speaks to them more than to me."

On if he remembers any previous # 1 vs. #2 match-ups:

"I remember Texas-Arkansas one year. That was a long time ago. That's before your time. I think I remember that game, Frank Broyles and Darrell Royal, I think. Notre Dame-Michigan State, I remember that one. You would probably remember that one, some of you."

On if he is excited to play in a game of this magnitude:

"Absolutely. I think when you look -- we've played this game now, Michigan vs. Ohio State, for 102 years. To have this be the first time in over a century that both teams are ranked 1-2, in this length of time to never have had this happen before, and you know, it's may be a long time before it happens again. It's a dream to not only coach in this rivalry, but to be able to play in a game like this, certainly is very, very special."

On the health of Prescott Burgess and Kevin Grady:

"Prescott Burgess will play. And Kevin Grady, he's better than he was last week and he practiced last week, so we'll have to see."

On Ohio State:

"I think you look at the way his teams performed, and they play very hard and well together. They're well disciplined, and they do a great job with their schemes, attacking from the standpoint of playing to their strengths and attacking weaknesses."

On his memories of the 1969 Michigan - Ohio State game:

"I think you're going to get a chance to ask Bo what he thinks. I had just gotten out of college. He had coached and taught in the city of Detroit in 1969. I was in Flint, Michigan, working on my master's degree, and so I remember that game because of what Coach Hayes had done down there in Columbus when he went for two because he couldn't go for three. I remember some of the articles that were written in the springtime about the kind of practices that Coach Schembechler was having here at Michigan. And of course they got into the season. I can remember Missouri beating them soundly, I think here at Ann Arbor. But as the season went on, that team got better and better, and I think anybody that follows this game, they remember the week of the game. And of course, it was Bo coaching against Woody for the first time. I've seen a few clips of that game since then. Television has come a long way since 1969. But, yes, it was a special game. I remember Barry Pierson and the kickoff, or the punt returns that he had in this game. That was special."

On if Troy Smith is the best quarterback he has seen this season:

"I don't like to compare quarterbacks but he has a great arm. I mean, he can throw the football. He's a guy that's got great mobility. What I always value in a quarterback, where I start my assessment of a quarterback, is his toughness, and he's extremely tough. If you watch him over the course of his career, he's proven he can take punishment and get up and compete. I think he's an outstanding quarterback, there's no question about that."

On if there are any similarities between Michigan and Ohio State:

"I'm not going to compare the two. I think there are talented guys and what I've seen in this game a lot of times is that there are a lot of guys that are on special teams or maybe playing certain roles where they don't get the notoriety that some of the other guys get. Very often it is those guys that do things that maybe aren't noticed in the kicking game -- so it's truly is a team game. Every guy that steps on that field is going to have a role to play on every play that he plays, and that role can often be the deciding factor. So that's why it's such a great game, because there are 22 guys out there on every play, and every one of them can impact the game."

On his players handling the pressure:

"I think a guy doesn't come here to Michigan unless he wants the pressure. We talk about that all the time: Expectations are such that you've got to want it. You have got to understand that it's part of playing here. You're going to deal with a lot of different issues. But the great news is that in the course of that experience, it toughens you. It helps you to leave with a confidence that there's nothing out there in the world that you're going to face that you can't deal with because it's competitive here academically as well, so that's the kind of guys we're looking for. That's not to say one of the things that you read all the time is that some guy choked. Well, the truth is there are going to be mistakes out there Saturday. There's going to be some missed tackles. There's going to be some guys that miss blocks. There's going to be some guys that maybe miss a pass. They turn the football over. But the deal is that if you've been in this season, I think on either side of the ball at either school, you know what pressure is, and you wouldn't have gotten here if you didn't. Now, to be able to play like you want to this week comes back to paying attention this week in your meetings, studying your opponent as well as you can so that you feel confident going in knowing what he's going to do, knowing what his strengths and weaknesses are and knowing what yours are, too. And then you'll be able to play your best, and that's really what you strive to do every week."

On if Chad Henne evolved as a leader this year:

"Chad Henne is a great quarterback. I guess I evaluate it a lot different. For me it's not about stats, it's about how he manages the game, how he executes at his position. And Chad Henne, what he did here as a freshman, in my judgment, is as impressive as anything anybody's done since I've been here. I think this year he's having a great year. He has the tough position, he's intelligent, he's competitive. He's got a great arm and he studies the game. He's an unselfish guy. I like everything about him. I liked everything about him when we recruited him, and I like everything that he's done here. I like him a lot. I think you lead -- there's a lot of different ways to lead. There are a lot of different ways to do a lot of things but when you're 18 years old and you come into a program where there are a hundred other people and you don't know any of them, you don't come in and shoot your mouth off. You come in and try to execute the position and the responsibilities that you have, and he did that. But certainly, as he has been here, as he's had all the experiences he's had, as he has developed deep friendships on this team, there is a comfort there where he can feel confident that anything he says won't be misconstrued as some young guy shooting his mouth off, telling 23 year old guys what to do. I never had a problem with his leadership. Look, you don't win a Big Ten championship as freshman. You don't take a team to the Rose Bowl unless you're confident and unless you know what you're doing, so that's my take."

On Leon Hall:

"Leon is a special kid. There are a lot of special guys on this team, but his performance has been exceptional. Saturday they threw the ball deep to (James) Hardy. He's 6-7, and they threw the ball up high trying to make a play that he's made a lot of times this year. Leon went out and competed and knocked the ball away. The first play of the game they went deep on him. He was in perfect position, and if the receiver hadn't made a great play, he would have intercepted the ball. I think he's a guy that everyone respects, because he doesn't say much at all. But when you watch him in practices and the way he conducts himself, and if you know the challenges he's had in his life, you understand what a quality guy he is."

On Rueben Riley's performance this season:

"There are always questions about everything. He's dealt with those like you have to be able to do. But I think he's developed a mental toughness that he did not have when he got here. Rueben has always been a big guy, he's a good athlete, and he's such a nice guy that, you know, I've used a little bit different tact with Rueben. As a matter of fact, last spring he got so mad at me that he wanted to probably murder me (laughing). I'm glad he didn't, because I'm glad to be here to watch him play. I think he's just grown up and matured and developed a tenacity with which he plays the game that he had to learn."

On why Michigan doesn't promote players for the Heisman or other national awards:

"I don't know that that is true. I think that's a perception. I don't as a coach, I don't see every single player in this country so it would be unfair in my position, and I think it would be right of people to question me, if I go saying, you know, that this guy should win this award. But what I can do is give a guy from my position publicly an endorsement. I don't think it's that we don't promote guys. Now, I think we've had a lot of guys win awards. I would say that's more of a philosophy of the sports information office, it's been a culture here and I have seen no reason to change that. I've always believed this: That if you're successful as a team, that there will be enough rewards for everyone, and I believe that."

On if he has an opinion on the possibility of a rematch of this game:

"Not at this time. I have got enough to worry about with this game. And whatever comes after is part of the system and it will be what it will be."

On how Mike Hart has improved:

"I think you start with Mike Hart. He possesses a great competitiveness. He's got a burning compassion to compete. When he got here and I looked at him, you know, I'm thinking, it's going to take him a year or two to get big enough and strong enough to take the pounding. And there's another story. I mean, if you look back at what this kid did is as a true freshman, it's astounding. As many times as he carried the ball (as a freshman) and his incredible ability to be tackled and be hit and not fumble the football (is impressive). But I do think the difference in Mike Hart today is that he is much stronger, and obviously he has a great ability to find a crease, a small crease, and he's tough. Seems to bleed the defense for an extra yard or two because of whatever he has inside of him."

On why the movie Cinderella Man was included in his message to the team:

"I didn't see that film for a while. And you know, Hoosiers has always been my favorite movie as far as sports-themed movies go. When I watched it, there were so many things in that movie that really spoke to team, because it's really a story about a guy that's trying to provide for his family. That's really what it's about. I think it's a team oriented theme even though you don't consider boxing a team-oriented sport. The casting is incredible. The guy in the corner -- and I can't remember his name -- but the guy that played Jimmy Braddock's wife was wonderful. The competition, there's just scene after scene where there is a lesson for anybody that watches that movie, in my judgment."

On the advantage of having a number of key players with experience playing at Ohio State:

"I think any time you've been somewhere it's a benefit, good bad or indifferent. I think other than playing an outstanding football team, the great challenge is playing in a stadium that is so loud and having been there, they know that. They've seen the colors; they've heard the band; they've seen those jerseys. So those things aren't new to them. Now we've got a lot of young players that have been to Notre Dame and Penn State, but they're going to have to take all that in when they get there. I think for those that have been there that's an advantage."

On if he wanted Ohio State undefeated and playing its best heading into this game:

"That's what Ben Hogan said: You always want your opponents, you want to win because you were better. I think most coaches and most people who are in competition at this stage of the season there are a lot of guys that aren't at their best probably on both teams. That's why, from a coaching standpoint, you admire those people who are playing, because they simply love the game, they love their teammates, and they know that in some cases this won't come again."

On this team being motivated by last year's record:

"There's no question that when you had the type of season we had, that you're either going to back down and you're going to continue that trend -- if that's what you want to call it -- or you're going get up and fight. And so other than that, I don't know except to say that I don't think there's any question that it motivated all of us, and that's what it should have done."

On if he and Jim Tressel will interact more after their careers are ove like Bo & Woody did:

"I think Bo and Woody were -- that's a different deal because when you coach with somebody like Bo did for Woody, that's a different deal. That has happened down through the history of college football a number of times. I think we have responsibilities to our universities, and part of that is we have coach's meetings every spring, sometimes twice a year. We've always had an extremely professional relationship. But I do think that the rivalry is so intense, and I think it's true with some of the other teams we play. This is an intensely competitive environment just like the one you're in. So sometimes you have closer friendships than others. I don't think you're going to see the Ohio State-Michigan coach going to parties together."

On Woodley thriving at defensive end in college as opposed to linebacker:

"I think when LaMarr was a true freshman it was pretty obvious. He's 260 now. We've got a guy, Brandon Graham, who we recruited as a linebacker, and when he came in this fall he was 270 pounds. It was obvious to us that at some point LaMarr was probably going to be too big to be a linebacker. Although athletically I think he's capable of being that. He wanted to play as a freshman. That's one of the things. He didn't want a redshirt. I said if you're going to play as a freshman, you got to come in in shape. You have got to come in this summer and work out with the guys and get a feel for what the tempo of the work outs are like. And as we got into training camp and he got involved in all the drops, the pass drops that a linebacker has to deal with, we told him, your best chance to play, because it's an easier position if all you're going is rushing, to move to defensive end. He never hesitated. I think he understood that because LaMarr likes to execute. He likes to do what he's supposed to do. So he moved in there and he did an excellent job for a young guy that just arrived on campus. Things have worked out pretty well for him."

On his advice to his players for this game:

"I tell them to enjoy it. The guys that came up here, you know, enjoy it because it'll be a bigger crowd than normal and you'll have people from all over the country here. They want to know what kind of guy you are. So relax and enjoy yourself, be yourself. But as far as overall media, I think you're doing things constantly in the course of a year where you're trying to say, Okay, this is what happened somewhere else. I try to give them reports off the Internet of mistakes that are made. You're trying to show them by example. The upperclassmen, I was telling them the other day about an interview I saw with Tom Brady after a tough loss two weeks ago. I watched him after the Indianapolis game, and he was on for 15 minutes. I told them how Brady handled that interview, because there's going to be some tough questions at times. There's going to be some tough times when things aren't going well for you. That's an opportunity to learn from somebody else, so that when you get into that position you know how to handle it. And, you know, we've all made mistake in the media. If you've been with them any length of time you're going to say some things that you regret. But the main thing is to be able to try to be yourself, but most of all to enjoy this week, enjoy this day, so that you've got great memories of not just the game, but all of the excitement that's been generated by what two teams have done. It's special. I know Tom Brady played yesterday. I think he had a tough loss there, but we get a lot of guys calling and writing and all that stuff. That's part of the fun of it, too."

On if he can verbalize what this game means to him:

"I'm not good at verbalizing anything (laughing). I wish I could. I wish I could stand back and say, My God, look at what you're part of. But, there's a game coming. Every minute that I spend here is one less minute, and every minute I spend thinking about something that isn't related to the game, is not good."


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